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“In Iranian prisons, mental torture is nothing short of physical torture. Interrogators ask questions about the most personal family matters just to harass you mentally”, said a former Christian prisoner in an interview with Mohabat News after leaving Iran.
(A more detailed version of this article has been published in Farsi. Below is a summarized version)
Mohabat News – In the past few years, especially after the controversial 2009 presidential election, the situation has been worsening for political and social activists, and religious minorities. The Islamic regime of Iran seizes every possible opportunity to restrict and pressure them. For Christian converts these pressures have been in the form of closure of churches, arrests, torture, long-term sentences and being exiled to remote places with extreme weather.
These persecutions have caused many Christians to leave their home country, Iran.
Hassan Saddat-Barikani, is a Christian convert who was imprisoned in Evin prison for several months before being conditionally release on bail. During this period of conditional release, threats against him, his family and his job grew to the point where he could not do anything but leave the country illegally. He and his family crossed the Iran-Turkey border, and claimed refugee status there.
When he was in Iran, security authorities had arrested him twice for his faith.
He told Mohabat News, “The situation is really tough for religious minorities, especially Christian converts, in Iran. Security authorities constantly pressure them. It even reached the point that churches were pressured to require us to present our ID cards and give our address and phone number before entering the church building. It was obviously a government requirement. Some churches were forced to cooperate with the government, or the government would intensify its pressure on the church. There are many unnamed Christians in prisons in Iran, especially in smaller cities. The situation is different in Tehran. News of Christian prisoners in Tehran find their way outside and are spread. However, no one would know about Christian prisoners in smaller cities”.
As Mr. Saddat-Barikani explains it, “In Iranian prisons, mental torture is nothing short of physical torture. Interrogators ask questions about the most personal family matters just to harass you mentally”. He and his family are currently seeking asylum in Turkey.
A court in Iran has seized a portion of his assets and prohibited from working.
Regarding his situation in prison, he said, “We could usually shower once a week, but sometimes that would not happen. There were also cleaning programs, but even those were often skipped. Even going to the washroom has its own issues. You would call on the guards to escort you to the washroom, and they would often ignore you, whether on purpose or by order. Add these to the difficulties of solitary confinement. Even the most basic human needs are not provided for in ward 209 of Evin prison”.
Please remember to pray for the nation of Iran and for Christians living there. There are so many suffering for their faith in Christ. Most of us know of American Pastor Saeed Abedini imprisoned by Iran for his faith, but as the report claims there are many we never hear about.
Pray they may be given strength and boldness for the Lord. That they may know He has not forsaken them. Pray the will forgive their oppressors. Pray for the persecutors, that their hearts be softened. And they will come to know the love of Christ—then follow Him.